Posts Tagged ‘camping’

img_1049The Bears Den of Melrose Cub Scout Pack 68 had fun last weekend. They had their first overnight camping trip. It was held a couple miles south of Melrose in the backyard of one of the families. With a nice big backyard, and hiking trails nearby, it was a good spot for this fun activity. Eight of the ten Bear Scouts were able to attend the outing. I believe they each had a parent in attendance.

The Bears were kept busy with several activities. They assisted in setting up the tents and laying out their gear. They took a hike to a nearby gravel pit, watching for animal tracks along the way to complete an award requirement. They learned about pocket knife safety as they earned their Whittling Chip badge. And, of course they played games. It is amazing how much noise eight third grade boys can make when they are having fun together. After it got dark, it suddenly grew very quiet, like someone had turned off the volume switch. It did not take long to discover the boys had decided to play a game of hide and seek. After that game was done the noise level rose again.

I did not stay for the overnight. I did attend for a few hours, enough time to have supper with the den, chat with the parents in attendance, and have a little fun with the boys. My true reason for being there was to tell a story around the campfire before they turned in for the night. The story I chose? The Purple Gorilla story. It is a good story for that age group. Even the adults enjoyed it. As the story’s suspense reached its peak toward the end of the tale, I had everyone’s full attention. In fact, at one point I think everyone one of the boys jumped, and maybe even a couple adults. As I finished the tale with its interesting twist, the Scouts laughed and the adults smiled.

It may have been a quite suspenseful story, but it really is not a scary story. In fact, one of the fathers told me the next day that the Scouts fell asleep very quickly once the turned in for the night. No nightmares were to be had. Let’s face it, the boys were worn out. The night did get a bit chilly though. It temperature dropped into the upper thirties Sunday morning. The young Scouts did not seem to mind very much. It was just another part of their weekend adventure!

Philmont Gate 2014It is official! Boy Scout Troop 68 of Melrose is going to Philmont Scout Ranch in the summer of 2016. Our committee chairperson received confirmation of our trek registration last week. Let the planning begin!

It has been a decade since the troop went to the ranch. In 2004, six troop members and three adults went along with the council contingent. Unfortunately, we signed up late and our group was split up to fill out the two crews. It was not the ideal situation but everyone who went had a great time.

The 2016 trek will once again be a troop outing. The council did not reserve a contingent for that summer. This means we, the troop and committee, will have to do all the planning and transportation arrangements which is not a bad thing when you think about it. We will probably drive to New Mexico from Minnesota so we will need to plan the course and overnight stops. A little sight seeing will have to be included. Can you say “road trip!”?

The first time Boy Scouts from Troop 68 attended Philmont was in 1986 when five Scouts and myself partook in a trek. (This was before the two deep leadership rule.) The troop went back in 1989, 1992, 1998, and 2004. We tried to plan a high adventure trip every three years. In 1995 we went to the High Knoll Trail in Virginia. In 2001 we participated in the National Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill. The 2004 Philmont trip was the last high adventure outing for Troop 68, until now.

This is not saying that our Scouts have not had opportunities for high adventure. Several individual Scouts did participate in council contingents to Philmont and other National Jamborees over the years.

The troop has a registration for 5 Scouts and two adult leaders in July 2016. I am thinking we may have 6 or 7 Scouts sign up for the trek. We already have two adults and one Scout who will be an adult at that time who have stated they plan to attend. There has been some talk among the committee that we offer any unfilled slots to another local troop to fill out a 12 person crew.

I would like to go back to Philmont with the 2016 crew. I have participated in the previous five treks taken by the troop and enjoyed every one of them. Those five treks may have to be enough for me though. I have been having a little problem with my right knee over the last few months. Walking does not bother me but climbing stairs can be painful at times. Most of the Philmont trails have an easy seven degree incline but there are always the steeper climbs that become more challenging. I will have to see how the next few months turn out before I decide.

flint and steelCamp Watchamagumee was the place to be for the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 during the weekend of May 17-19. The six Scouts, including four new members, and two adult leaders may have got a bit damp during the evening hours but they had a lot of fun during the day.

Friday night was a pretty laid back schedule. The troop left Melrose about 6:30 pm. The boys spent the evening setting up camp, reviewing fire safety rules, and enjoyed sitting around the campfire until the first drops of rain send them running for the safety of their tents.

The Scouts had a busy Saturday schedule. After breakfast they worked on their advancement and began building their primitive shelters that would would sleep in that night. It did not take long to discover that the boys did not bring along enough tarps and plastic sheets to build what they wished to build. After a lunch of baked beans and hot dogs roasted over an open fire the troop played a round of nine holes of disc golf.

Saturday afternoon was time for the annual Egg Drop Competition. Each of the Scouts received a raw egg. Their challenge was to create a package for their egg using other natural materials found around the campsite. These packages would than be dropped from higher and higher distances until only one egg remained. Daniel Klassen was this year’s Egg Drop Competition winner. He took home a Boy Scout campfire cooking grille as his prize.

The next event tested the Boy Scouts fire making skills. Each boy was to start a fire and keep it going long enough to burn through a string seven inches above the ground. Matches were not allowed for this contest. The Scouts needed to start their fires using flint and steel. A strong wind turned out to be the villain of this event. Even though the Scouts created hundreds of sparks, the wind blew out many of the flames the boys were hoping to use to start their fires. Alex Engelmeyer was the troop’s winner of this competition.

The boys finished the afternoon by finishing their primitive shelters, playing a couple of games, and making a great supper of fried potatoes and spaghetti and meat sauce. There was not much food left over. The boys had worked up quite an appetite.

A short chapel service was held at 7:30 that evening. This was followed with the boys moving their sleeping bags and pads into their primitive shelters for the night. As the Scouts gathered for the evening campfire they learned a troop song about Camp Watchamagumee, heard the story of the Purple Gorilla, and learned how to protect themselves from a wolfen attack.

Half of the Scouts discovered that their primitive shelters did not do a sufficient job of keeping them dry once the rain showers moved in overnight, but a couple did stay in their shelter for the entire night. Important lessons were learned which will be used the next time they build a shelter, which could be as soon as their June weekend outing.

Attending the Watchamagumee outing were Boy Scouts Alex, Daniel, Zack, Adrian, Sam, and Macoy. Adult leaders for the weekend were Scoutmaster Jim and assistant scoutmaster Eymard. Committee member Steve provided program assistance. The troop would also like to thank Melvin and Vern Klassen for allowing them to use their land for the outing.

More pictures of this outing can be found on the troop’s website. .

First of all, let us get something straight. When I say camping I mean staying overnight in a tent or sleeping under the stars. I do not consider staying in a cabin, lodge, or barracks as camping. Camping is sleeping outside, not in a building. Now that we have that understanding…

I have not camped out even one night during 2012, and it looks as if this year will be my first year without a camping trip since 1979. I began camping with the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 when I became an assistant scoutmaster in 1980. There were a lot of camping trips during the next 32 years, both long term and short term outings.

This is not to say that I did not attend any troop activities this year. I did attend a weekend outing at Camp Stearns in  March, but we stayed in a lodge. I did spend most of a day at Camp Watchamagumee in May but I did not spend the night. I did visit the troop for a day at Many Point Scout Camp in July but left when it was time for the evening campfire program. I was going to spend the weekend with the boys for a June camping trip at Kings Lake but it was cancelled due to a lack of participants. The August canoe trip was attended by several parents so there was no need for me to tag along. I was going on a weekend camping trip with some former troop members in May, but it rained that weekend and everyone backed out.

It seems strange not to use my camping gear. Usually, I would have to pack up for at least five or six outing each year. My rain gear remains dry. My cot remains folded and my mat remains rolled. My eating utensils remain clean. It is kind of weird, but it was my own choice. I wanted the Scouts, parents, and new adult leadership to understand that I really have stepped down as the scoutmaster and that they should not be relying on me to attend the troop’s outings as they have in the past.

Will I get back into camping with the troop during 2013? I am not sure yet. We will have to see how things turn out, but yes, I would enjoy camping with the Scouts again in the great Minnesota outdoors. I think everyone now understands that we have a new scoutmaster but that I am there if I am needed. Besides, I enjoy camping and I think I still have a skill set to offer the troop.

The year was 1986. It was a good year for the Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 program. There was a large membership for Troop 68, and good turnout for the monthly activities and courts of honor. Winter camp, a primitive campout, the Ripley Rendezvous, a Scout-O-Rama, and a local camporee were just some of the events. It was the first year we sent a crew to Philmont Scout Ranch. I recently finished a video featuring pictures from the year which I hope to share with the troop alumni. I thought you might enjoy traveling back in time also and see what the troop program looked like in 1986.

Were you a Boy Scout in 1986?

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I had a dandy dream this morning. I paid an “out of season” visit to the Buckskin Camp of Many Point Scout Camp to check in on the campsite Troop 68 has been using for a number of years. I was quite surprised to find the camp staff at the Seton campsite preparing to set up the new climbing towers. This shocked me! But I knew the camp was making improvements. After all, in real life a new Handicrafts Lodge and Nature Lodge had been built this year. Back to the dream, I decided to help the staff prep the site for the new towers. The campsite would actually be a decent site for the towers, more centrally located, but I had always thought the old site was a good place for the towers also. Oh well, our troop would have to move to a different campsite next year.

In the dream I left the campsite for a moment (it seems to be just a few minutes). When I came back not only where the two towers completed but other things had been added. There was a new course for gas-biking (?), and a short zip-line which ended at a new small manmade lake. And there was still more construction going on for other things. My first thought was that the Seton Campsite is not this big! (Typical for a dream, isn’t it?) My next thought was that they are turning summer camp into an amusement park. It is at this point that I woke up.

Needless to say, I was a little upset and confused when I woke up. Then I began thinking. I hope I never see a Boy Scout summer camp turn into an amusement park atmosphere. That would really kill the whole premise of the Scouting program. Valleyfair, Six Flags, and Disneyland are not good places to earn merit badges and learn life skills. This is one dream I do not want to see come true.

It has been over 25 years since 1985 came to an end. It was a busy year for the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68. They went to winter camp at Parker Scout Reservation, attended the council’s Ripley Rendezvous at Camp Ripley, held a spring pancake and sausage breakfast fundraiser, went to camp Watchamagumee in the early spring, hopped onto their bicycles for a weekend outing in June, attended summer camp at Tomahawk Scout Camp in Wisconsin, visited the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in September, took part in a city’s emergency drill in October, and even found time to hold a few courts of honor. Like I said, it was a busy but very fun year. Here is a slideshow featuring pictures from those events.

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Cooking on a Boy Scout camping trip can be an interesting experience, especially with young inexperienced campers. I have seen many burned pancakes, half raw hamburgers, and overturned pots during my days as a scoutmaster. When I am eating something crunchy that really should not be crunchy I am reminded of a camping trip from my days as a youth…

My troop was attending a district camporee one weekend when I was in my early teens. We were sitting around the campfire ring about to eat our meal. Our scoutmaster, Dr. Scanlan, was sitting next to me. There was a small amount of dirt on my food. I do not remember how it got there, if the patrol cook had done something during preparing the meal, or if I had kicked some dirt onto the plate somehow. I do remember I was not interested in eating this food with its “natural” seasoning. I was a very picky eater and this was not helping the situation.

I made a fuss and commented that I was not going to eat this stuff. My scoutmaster heard me and replied that a little dirt would not kill me. Then he added something that I will never forget. He said, “A person will eat an average of seven pounds of dirt during his lifetime.”

I am not ashamed to say that I was surprised and shocked by the statement. I did not know if he was telling the truth, or if he had just made it up. He was a doctor, after all. He would know about these things.  I do recall my reply to him. I looked at him, and at my food, and said, “I don’t want to add to that seven pounds.”

I do not remember if I ate the food that day or not. I probably did because I was hungry. I have since come to the conclusion though that if you are a scoutmaster you will eat a lot more than seven pounds of dirt in your lifetime.